Sunday, 13 July 2014 12:48
on July 7th, 2014 at 9:41 PM
Over the next several weeks (at least), I’m going to be doing a series on how to write a story from idea to finished product. Along the way, we will also have some guest blogs that tie in to this as well.
We’ve talked before about various aspects of fiction (point of view, openings, conflict, action scenes–to name a few), and we’ve mentioned the five narrative forms (description, exposition, dialog, thoughts, action) and talked about some of these.
At the very least, a story needs four basic things to get it started: story idea, character(s), setting, and conflict.
Sunday, 13 July 2014 12:48
on June 30th, 2014 at 8:31 PM
In the previous six installments of my police investigation series, I focused primarily on the investigation at death scenes for five of them. I covered a number of aspects of these cases, including how we determine if a death is accidental, murder, suicide, or natural. I examined ways to estimate how long it has been since the person’s death, and I covered the procedures we follow for each situation.
In a post three months ago (4/7/2014) I did “Forensic Fun with Fingerprints” (the Part 1 of this Part 2). At this point, I would like to go into more detail about the science of fingerprints and palm prints. Because it has been a while since my last post on this topic, some of what I present here will repeat part of the previous post in order to make the discussion clear, and so you don’t have to refer to the previous one to understand this one.
Monday, 23 June 2014 13:59
How can you design a character that is supposed to be smarter/more clever/more intelligent than the author?
This question came up recently on the Forum at Silver Pen. (Readers of this blog readers who are not members of Silver Pen should consider joining. It’s free and it’s a great place to learn to improve your writing.) Several people chimed in with advice.
Before we look at the answers, let’s consider what “smarter” (or more intelligent) means in this context. One commenter at Silver Pen cautioned not to get too hung up on “smart” and “clever” because these terms are somewhat relative. Two quotes from different commenters in the discussion are relevant:
Tuesday, 17 June 2014 18:53
on June 9th, 2014 at 9:34 PM
It’s been over a year since I wrote Part 4 of this series. You can see and read parts 1-4 simply by going to clicking here to go to Rick's "Dialog" category at his blog.
In this installment, I want to offer some tips on the basics of writing good dialog. Some writers struggle with dialog, while to others it comes naturally.
Why is dialog important in stories? Done well, it can be one of the best way to “show, don’t tell” because it can show the personalities of the characters, make them individuals, and help the reader to get to know them. Now, for that to happen, dialog has to step beyond the trivial and not be mundane. It’s okay for characters to greet each other, but the lines should consist of more than “Hi, Steve” or “What’s up, Martin?”
Saturday, 07 June 2014 16:46
by Write Well, Write To Sell on June 2nd, 2014 at 8:26 PM
In PART 1, we discussed the use of names and addresses in fiction. Last time, in PART 2, Scott expanded on this and added his perspective. This time we’re going to delve into the use of numerical and other personal identifiers, plus IP addresses and websites. Scott’s comments apply very strongly to these. I only present them to show what you CAN do and to give you a relatively safe approach to using these identifiers if they’re required by the story.
Tuesday, 03 June 2014 09:12
on May 27th, 2014 at 8:24 PM
[RICK COMMENTS: After reading last week's post, Scott chimed in with some useful information from a police officer's perspective. PART 3 will continue where PART 1 left off.]
One thing a writer needs to balance is the need for realism and detail versus privacy and reliability. I understand that sometimes we want to put every last detail into the story. Maybe you have a police officer running a license plate over the radio, or you want one character to give an exact phone number or address to another. That’s all fine, but before stepping so deep into the minutiae, it helps to think about unintended consequences. Too add further thoughts to Rick’s discussion on this topic, we thought I should present the issue from the perspective of a police officer.
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 18:51
on May 19th, 2014 at 9:01 PM
A while back, one of the members of Silver Pen (Silver Pen Writers’ Association) asked a question about using names, addresses, telephone numbers, and various other personal ID numbers (social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, etc.) in fiction. The person wanted to know what could and could not be used. I thought this an interesting topic and copied my response to use later in the blog.
Monday, 12 May 2014 18:46
on May 12th, 2014 at 8:00 PM
Okay, I struggled with a title of this post. I thought of “Possessives for Dummies,” but didn’t want to risk a lawsuit from the Dummies folks who have that trademarked. Likewise, “Possessives for Idiots” was a candidate, but I’m fairly sure that set of titles is likewise trademarked. I know, it’s only a blog post, but in this litigious world, even us little guys are targets.
Then I considered “Possessives for Pinbrains,” but I didn’t want to insult any of our readers. In the end, I went with something neutral and more politically correct instead of saying, “IT’S MINE (possessive pronoun) AND I’LL DO WHATEVER THE F- I PLEASE!”
Calm thyself, Rick…
The purpose of this post is to help writers avoid confusing plurals and possessives and to teach when to use and when not to use apostrophes with these.
Monday, 05 May 2014 18:48
on May 5th, 2014 at 8:26 PM
Okay, so now you’ve written your story. You’ve found your focus (or theme), you’ve shown instead of telling, and you found a balance of action, dialogue and description. You even got critiques so you edited, revised, and polished your story so it shines. Now what?
Now you need to submit. Sound scary?
Everyone has a fear of being rejected. But at some point you’re going to have to let your “baby” go. Stories need to be submitted or you’ll never know how good you really are. There are very few things in this world that are for sure: death, taxes, and if you don’t submit, you’ll never get accepted.
After having submitted stories and being accepted, I was told by one editor that I needed to learn how to write. Well, you’re learning every day of your life, so maybe I had some things to learn, but I knew I was a good writer. This editor just didn’t see my potential. Or maybe it wasn’t that. Maybe I was writer number 100 to submit a story that just wasn’t quite what that editor was looking for. Maybe he/she was just having a bad day. I’m still submitting and getting bummed over rejections and overjoyed at acceptances.
Monday, 28 April 2014 19:01
by Brandon M Johnson
This week’s delightful and advice-filled blog post was originally submitted as an article on writing to Silver Blade magazine. Unfortunately, that magazine recently changed its editorial polices and no longer accepts such articles. However, we felt that the article deserved an audience because it lays out the elements of a good story in a concise, to-the-point way. Besides, with that title, it was too enticing to pass up. We hope you find it useful, and we hope that Brandon Johnson will consider sending us more such articles for our consideration in the future.
From Brandon Johnson:
Writing has much in common with confronting dragons. Imagine you are a swordsman walking through an enchanted forest when a dragon appears. Your first reaction to facing this dragon would not be to survey your surroundings or engage in pithy dialogue. No, you would run ahead, screaming as you thrust the blade into its abdomen. Writing a story is much like this. You are the swordsman and the reader is the dragon.